The coming Festival Albertine, an annual gathering of American and Francophone activists, intellectuals, writers and artists, will focus on a truly international topic: climate change. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books announced Tuesday that Bill McKibben, the tenacious environmentalist and author of “The End of Nature” and other titles, will be the curator of this year’s festival, which will run Nov. 8-10 at Albertine Books on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“We’re finally in a real climate moment,” Mr. McKibben said. “It’s precisely when we need to be talking really seriously about where we are.”
To facilitate this conversation, Mr. McKibben has selected a roster of thinkers, including Naomi Klein, Priscillia Ludosky and Marie Toussaint, for discussions on topics like sustainable agriculture and food consumption, the role local governments and nongovernmental actors can play in tempering climate change and the relationship between artists, scientists and politicians. Mr. McKibben will moderate each event.
The opportunity to work with French and Francophone intellectuals was intriguing to Mr. McKibben for a number of reasons, he said in an interview. France, he pointed out, “was the site of the Paris climate talks, so its diplomats and leaders developed a fair amount of expertise in thinking through this issue.” The agreement, he added, has “accounted for a fair amount of what form of progress there’s been.”
But other factors drew Mr. McKibben as well. The Yellow Vest movement in France, which he said “to one degree or another was a reaction against increases in gas prices,” is important to him to consider in how to respond to climate change. He also cited efforts in France to increase the carbon in its soil to slow the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: “I thought it would be really good to get some information on that out to everybody.”
A forum like the Festival Albertine also provides an opportunity to address some basic issues that make the climate change issue difficult. Things as mundane as language barriers can make it hard to quickly and efficiently communicate new information, he said. “If one can do things like get out data about the French soil law into the information bloodstream where other people can pick it up and think about it, that seems like a useful way to spend a day or two.”
The festival’s events are free and will be streamed at livestream.com/frenchembassy.